The Kennedy Mystique: Creating Camelot

Overview

America's endless fascination with Camelot has enshrined countess pictures of Jack and Jackie Kennedy, Caroline and John-John in our national iconography, but few books have focused on their instinctive grasp of the media's visual magic. Now, in a volume that combines arresting photography and perceptive analysis, Camelot insiders and media experts tell the whole story of the "love affair" between the Kennedys and the camera—a far more complex and sophisticated relationship than...

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Overview

America's endless fascination with Camelot has enshrined countess pictures of Jack and Jackie Kennedy, Caroline and John-John in our national iconography, but few books have focused on their instinctive grasp of the media's visual magic. Now, in a volume that combines arresting photography and perceptive analysis, Camelot insiders and media experts tell the whole story of the "love affair" between the Kennedys and the camera—a far more complex and sophisticated relationship than we often suppose.

The Kennedy Mystique looks behind and beyond what first meets the eye, reminding readers that JFK and Jackie recognized and used the media's power, and encouraged photographers to capture private moments as well as public events. Unique commentaries from Kennedy intimates and observers like Letitia Baldridge, Hugh Sidey and Robert Dallek provide rare perspective on the photographs as historical records, as image-management, and as symbols. Readers learn, for instance, that the heartwarming shots of Jack laughing with John one Halloween were spontaneous, but the famous "candids" of Jack and Jackie putting the children to bed were staged.

The Kennedy Mystique puts the carefully crafted vision of Camelot in context of early-'60s culture and history to show how JFK and Jackie turned photography, celebrity, and media savvy into a potent political tool—and left a visual legacy of irresistible and lasting appeal.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This latest addition to the Kennedy canon presents a stunning photojournalistic portrait of the first family with an emphasis on their relationship with the media in general and the camera, specifically. With its striking photographs, informative chapter introductions and detailed commentary, this book captures the irresistible pull the Kennedys had on the world and demonstrates the crucial role photography (both still and film) played in creating their allure. Particularly of interest are the photo commentaries, so readers looking at photos of John Jr. playing in the Oval Office or Caroline walking ahead of her father (who lags behind, carrying her doll) get the skinny on how JFK "understood that his family was a political asset, especially his highly attractive children." And when the first lady redecorated "that dreary maison blanche," the world got a tour courtesy of CBS News. Figuring out which photos were posed and which were candid takes some doing, but this book leaves no doubt that it was a result of considerable effort that "Kennedy mimicry became a national pastime." Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780792253082
  • Publisher: National Geographic Society
  • Publication date: 4/4/2006
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 526,931
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Hugh Sidey covered JFK as a reporter for Time magazine. He is the veteran writer of Time magazine's popular column "The Presidency," and has reported on America's chief executives for Life and Time magazines since 1957. Over the course of more than four decades, he has become one of America's foremost observers of the Oval Office.

Letitia Baldridge was Jacqueline Kennedy's social secretary from 1960-1962 and was responsible for the lovely state dinners that characterized the administration. She is the author of 19 books, 14 of which concern manners and entertaining. A former assistant to the ambassadors of France and Italy, she was the first woman executive of Tiffany & Company. Since 1964, she has run her own business, Letitia Baldridge Enterprises.

Robert Dallek is one of the most highly regarded historians in America today, winner of the Bancroft prize and numerous other awards. He is the author of An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy 1917-1963 and a widely acclaimed two-volume biography of Lyndon Johnson.

John Goodman, a two-time Emmy Award winner, served as Senior Writer and Senior Producer for National Geographic Explorer from 1996-2004. He is now an Executive Producer for Partisan Pictures, Inc. in NYC.

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